Hopes and Dreams for the future of St Mark’s

by MARY MCKENNA Convener of Council

At our first meeting of the new Council we had an interesting discussion as we shared our hopes and dreams for the future of St Mark’s. The new term for ‘Brainstorming’ is ‘Thought
Showering’ and we were deluged with ideas.

We have appreciated the range and diversity of services over the last year and been especially encouraged to witness the growing confidence from members leading services. We would hope not to lose this momentum, and that a new
minister would build on the connections we have made and encourage further development of leadership within the community.

It is hoped the Children’s Programme will continue to grow with the children, as they grow physically, they will have continued opportunities to grow spiritually. Another intergenerational service would be appreciated, as would children’s involvement in the occasional service, with an ambition that some children to participate in events at Great Hucklow.

There is a clear desire to reach out beyond our community, to other faith groups and other organisations we support. This has the benefit of understanding other liberal perspectives
and to build partnerships with other organisations, such as St Catharine’s and Edinburgh Direct Aid, whose work we support with the homeless and refugees. These activities demonstrate our values in action. We are keen to be represented on the Board of Edinburgh Interfaith Association.  Please speak to Margery MacKay to find out more.

We wish to attract and engage new members as we strive to build our community. To do so we should find ways to raise the profile of Unitarians in the city, to keep a lively presence on the web and social media. A new minister would have a leading role in this task, with the hope that they would be the voice for Unitarians on the radio and other media. We imagine that people never attend church, though they may agree with Unitarian values and approach. Our community may be much larger than we imagine. We belief in our increasingly divided society Unitarians have a relevant, alternative approach which we should articulate more confidently. We are the voice of moderation in conflict, the voice of reason in chaos and our liberal theology has much to offer on current moral issues.

We particularly hope to be able to run a series of groups such as ‘Building Your Own Theology’, as this is a very attractive way of engaging new people in our liberal approach. Groups such as ‘Mindfulness at Lunchtime’ ‘Poetry Reading for Pleasure’ are proven ways of engaging people to visit St Mark’s, though we are not always effective in capturing the
interest of casual visitors. We have over 3,000 visitors in St Mark’s for concerts and other social events throughout the year, but few attend a service thereafter. This may reflect our
struggle to articulate our message clearly.

Lastly we would like our building to reflect our green credentials, from recycling to an ambition to fit solar panels to the roof. In the year ahead we hope to have addressed the problem in the basement and feel home and dry, free from water ingress from below as well as from above. So much thought showering! Please contribute to the discussion and email me with your thoughts, views and concerns.